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Session: 2022/23

Last modified: 07/03/2022 18:34:56

Title of Module: Mental Disorder and the Law

Code: NURS11139 SCQF Level: 11
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Health and Life Sciences
Module Co-ordinator:Helen  Walker

Summary of Module

The module critically explores the main types of mental disorder and their relationship to offending within the confines of mental health law, both civil and criminal. To understand the positive and the negative effects of homicide inquiries are important learning points. The role of psychiatric defences and the available legislation and processes involved in mental health legislation for offenders, including psychiatric defences are outlined. Students will also learn about legal defences against criminal charges available on psychiatric grounds. The module also explores the roles of clinicians working within the legal system and equips people with the knowledge and skills to both write competent court reports and appear in court. Understanding the aims and composition of court reports is an important aspect of the process. The services available for forensic patients (and others requiring similar services) are described as part of this module.

Graduate are likely to be more ethically minded and incisive as a result of completing this module.

  • The aim of this module is to explore the relationship between mental health and the legal system.

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully OnlineHybridCHybridOWork-based Learning
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

Online with mandatory face-to-face learning on Campus

Online with optional face-to-face learning on Campus

Work-based Learning
Learning activities where the main location for the learning experience is in the workplace.

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:






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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2


Term 3


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Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main types of mental disorder and their relationship to offending.

L2. Conceptualise and examine the available civil and criminal legislation and processes involved in mental health legislation for offenders.

L3. Demonstrate a critical understanding of the role of psychiatric defences.

L4. Demonstrate a robust and systematic approach to court report writing and an in depth knowledge of the process required for court appearances.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 11.

Critically understand the concepts and principles of mental disorder and the relationship to offending.

Develop in-depth knowledge of mental health law, both civil and criminal, including comparative knowledge of other legal systems.

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 11.

Critically review the positive and negative effects of homicide inquiries.

Use a range of specialised forensic skills that are informed by forefront developments in the engagement of court processes.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 11.

Critically appraise the value of civil and criminal legislation and processes.

Critically reflect upon ethical issues linked to mental health legislation.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 11.

Demonstrate knowledge of effective communication skills required for attendance at court and court report writing.

Effectively use ICT and numeric skills to present and disseminate information.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 11.

Demonstrate substantial autonomy and initiative in all professional activities.
Practice in ways which draw on critical reflection on own and others' roles and responsibilities

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

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Learning and Teaching
This module is delivered on a distance learning basis utilising AULA as the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).

Distance learning students: In this mode of delivery, students are learning fully online and are supported by the VLE. On-line students will receive core module resources; individual and group tutorial support; and directed learning via the VLE system. This will be aided by online AULA Community feed discussion posts; virtual learning activities; tutorials (on-line or face to face via Microsoft TEAMS); directed wider reading including access to electronic library and e-books.

All students will be expected to work through the on-line module materials independently via AULA. This will assist in enhancing skills of communication, presentation, information abstraction and problem-solving, and critical reflection. Module content reflects societal diversity and a rights-based approach to practice. To promote accessibility, anticipatory adjustments have been made to teaching and learning strategies e.g. availability of electronic copies of lecture materials. Further reasonable adjustments can be made for students who have been assessed as requiring specific adjustments e.g., specialised equipment for studying e.g. specialised software.

Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery22
Independent Study164
Asynchronous Class Activity14
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Thomson, L.D.G. and Cherry, J. (2014) Mental Health and Scots Law in Practice, 2nd edition. Green & Thomson Reuters, ISBN: 978-0-414-01763-4.

World Health Organisation ,(1992) The ICD-10 classification of mental and behavioural disorders: clinical descriptions and diagnostic guidelines. WHO International Classification of Diseases -10, Geneva.

Thomson, L.D.G. & Robinson, L. (2010) The Relationship between Crime and Psychiatry in Johnstone E.C. et al Companion to Psychiatric Studies Churchill Livingstone.

Fazel, S. et al (2009) Schizophrenia and Violence: systematic review and meta-analysis PLOS Med.

Tyrer,P., Duggan, C., Cooper, S., Crawford, M., Seivewright, H., Rutter, D., Maden, T., Byford, S. & Barrett, B. (2010) The successes and failures of the DSPD experiment: the assessment and management of severe personality disorder Medicine Science and the Law, 50, 2, 95-99, ISSN: 0025-8024.

Crichton, J. (2011) An introduction to Criminology. Chapter 2 in Bermingham et al Eds Seminars in Forensic Psychiatry 2nd Ed London: Gaskell.

McCall Smith, RAA, Shelden, D (1997) Scots Criminal Law, Butterworth, 2nd edition Scottish Law Commission (2004) Report on insanity and diminished responsibility. Edinburgh, The Stationery Office.

Crichton, J., Darjee, R., and Chiswick, D. (2004) Diminished responsibility in Scotland: new case law. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry and Psychology, 15, 552 - 565.

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Engagement Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on the relevant learning platform, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement procedure

Where a module has Professional, Statutory or Regulatory Body requirements these will be listed here:
Engagement with the module material on AULA, including Community feed posts.

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Supplemental Information

Programme BoardMental Health Nursing & IP
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelMHN&IP L9-11
ModeratorMark Gillespie
External ExaminerN Hallett
Accreditation Details
Version Number


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Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Summative assessment: Students will provide a written assignment (essay) of 4,000 words demonstrating the principles that underpin mental health law and the ethical considerations associated with use of the law (100% weighting).
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Learning Outcome (4) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Essaycheck markcheck markcheck markcheck mark1001
Combined Total For All Components100% 1 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

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  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
The School of Health and Life Sciences believes that education and practitioner diversity are central to achieving quality of care.

Within this module, quality of care, inclusiveness and employability are achieved by:

• Provision of a welcoming and supportive culture that promotes accessibility and equal opportunities to students and prospective students

• Promotion of confidence and knowledge of their rights as a student and employee

• Promotion of respect and knowledge of client diversity, their needs, rights and associated practitioner responsibilities

The above aims are supported by staff belief in fairness and equal opportunities and thus guide the content, teaching and learning, assessment and evaluation.

Anticipatory’ and ‘reasonable’ adjustments are grounded in ‘competence standards’ – specifically, the core requirements for progression / achievement in placement / module. Anticipatory adjustments have been made and ‘reasonable adjustments’ can be made available in teaching and learning strategies to promote accessibility of the module. For students who have disclosed a disability, the UWS Disability Service (DS) will assess the individual’s strengths and support needs and then forward a Student Support Form to the appropriate DS Co-ordinator who will circulate the form to all of the relevant teaching staff. ‘Reasonable adjustments’ may include adapted or specialised equipment or further specialist assessment or support (e.g. assessment by an Educational Psychologist, extended time for presentations or assessments). If funding is required, this can be organised by the DS and funded by the School. Reasonable adjustments, in line with DS recommendations for the assessment of the individual student can be assured.

Processes and procedures have been subject to Equality Impact Screening and where appropriate Equality Impact Assessment. Evaluation by all key stakeholders throughout the life of the module is also central to meeting our commitments.

Students should approach the Disability Service as early as possible to discuss support. Details of the service can be found at:
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School).

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)

2014 University of the West of Scotland

University of the West of Scotland is a Registered Scottish Charity.

Charity number SC002520.